History

Cow House Studios is named for its practical origins on the O’Gorman family farm, where for over 250 years the family has lived and worked the land. Nestled at the foot of the scenic Blackstairs Mountains, it is located three miles from the village of Rathnure, County Wexford. The vision of two artists, Rosie O’Gorman and Frank Abruzzese, fortified by the generosity of the O’Gorman family, has transformed the function of the Cow House from a beautiful stone structure used for bedding cows into a studio committed to facilitating contemporary visual arts practice.

Michael O’Gorman, Rosie’s father, originally considered using the old farm buildings to hold art classes in 1997 when Rosie began her degree in Art Education at the NCAD, Dublin. However, the idea of converting part of the O’Gorman farm into an artist space really took shape and gained momentum when Rosie and Frank met at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2002. By that time, it was clear the Cow House had potential to not only offer classes but also to position itself as an artistic and cultural hub for the region.

In 2005, plans to transform two buildings were put in motion. Between November 2006 and June 2008, both the studio and the Barn were lovingly renovated, maintaining the structural integrity of their unique birthplace. In June 2008, Cow House Studios opened, hosting a group of young international students for the very first session of Art on the Farm and later that year, hosted four artists for our first residency program. Today, Cow House Studios coexists alongside the family farm which continues to inform the experiences our gusts enjoy throughout the year.

Facilities

The studios are housed in a lovingly converted stone barn. Built in 1915, it was a working “cow house” until 2006. With its dense stone walls, abundant natural light, and high ceiling supported by striking wooden beams, the Cow House is architecturally unique at twice the width of typical Irish stone barns. Today, the 343 m2 (3700 ft2) open plan studio contains a darkroom, computer lab and lounge. The studios were designed for flexibility of use, the Cow House contains 4 individual spaces, and a shared open studio floor for larger group projects and alternative working methods.

The well-equipped black & white darkroom is capable of making prints up to 50 x 60 cm (20 x 24 in), and our computer lab consists of Apple Macintosh computers, a high-resolution film scanner, an Epson 4900 printer, Adobe Creative Suite and wireless broadband. We have two Nikon D3300 Digital SLR cameras with a variety of lenses, a selection of tripods, studio lights and seamless background papers. Artists may also use our various manual and electric hand tools including a table saw, mitre saw, router, wood plane, circular saw, jig saw, a variety of sanders and power drills in addition to a selection of clamps fasteners and glues.

Supplies provided at the studio include a selection of papers including, newsprint, 100, 150 & 300-gram cartridge paper, 300-gram watercolour paper and a selection of coloured A3 pastel papers. We also have 10 oz (339 gram) unprimed cotton canvas that measures 183cm wide. The studio is stocked with student grade watercolour & gouache by Reeves, a variety of water-based inks by Winsor Newton, Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paint, student grade oil paint by Winsor Newton, solvent, gesso and a variety of mediums.

Students and artists alike may avail of disposable paint palettes, palette knives, brushes and oil dippers. Additionally, the studio is also regularly stocked to ensure we have plenty of darkroom chemicals, ink for the printers, graphite pencils, charcoal, colour pencils, watercolour pencils, oil pastels, chalk pastels, markers, erasers, scissors, sharp Exacto knives, cutting mats, masking tape, drawing clips, fixative and PVA glue, A3 & A1 size drawing boards and easels.

Accommodation

Beside the studio lies our charming accommodation. The 300-year-old barn has been transformed to provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere for our guests. The shared experience of living, eating and spending time together, forms an integral part of life at the Cow House. The Barn contains five en-suite bedrooms, a cosy dining room, a large living area, an expanding visual arts library, and a busy kitchen where Caitriona and Frank prepare home cooked food.
At the Cow House we take our food seriously. We ensure that everyone eats three delicious and healthy meals a day, and we are happy to accommodate for any specific dietary needs, whether it be food allergy or vegetarian requirements. We serve a variety of cuisines from Irish to Mexican, Italian to Middle Eastern, and are proud to use ingredients that have been produced locally: fresh milk and cheese, natural Irish beef and lamb, and delicious root vegetables, not to mention our home baked breads, fruit preserves, ferments and delicious desserts.
The Barn is just beside the O’Gorman homeplace and in the past, was used as horse stables, dog kennels, storage for grain and potatoes and at one time housed workers who would have helped Rose’s ancestors work the land. It’s not uncommon for Rosie’s parents to pop in for a chat or share a meal with Rosie, Frank and their two children Michael and Emmet. The Barn is an integral part of the family homestead; giving students and residency artists alike a sense of the living history that makes short or long stays at the studio a special experience.